The Beggar’s Opera

Your film critic is a disciple of the arts, he remembers from school the thing, he’ll tell you it’s been tampered with, “interfering with a minor,” he’ll practically say.

Let alone the fact that Sir Arthur Bliss and Christopher Fry and Brook have filmed a musical out of the thing, and that under Herbert Wilcox’s hand Brook has wrought something Powell & Pressburger would not have disowned, no no, the satirical intent of the original must be preserved. And so it has.


Moderato Cantabile

The material is further reworked and analyzed in Dassin’s 10:30 P.M. Summer.

“As baffling as a woman’s intuition,” said Bosley Crowther of the New York Times.

And yet it works both ways, the earlier film sheds a light on the later.


Lord of the Flies

A deeply analytical view of the war, from the vantage point of an island full of refugee children.

By an Emersonian proceeding, Golding separates the sheep and the goats, exemplified in Piggy and Jack. The problem was to find a practical way to render such a proceeding cinematic. Ralph is the Fritz Lang mediator.

A kinship to the conclusion of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 is evident, and perhaps to Nemerov’s “Truth” (“around, above my bed, the pitch-dark fly”). The splendid preparation of a grand metteur en scène comes to terms with the acuity of the camera, somewhere between Flaherty and Murnau.

The negligent remake was preceded by a highly significant one, Michael Ritchie’s variant The Island. In any event, every critic seems to have missed the boat.

The allegory, which is very fine, is yet surpassed by the telling accuracy of the images in this “true story of Camberley”.


The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

An absolute, perfect revolutionary, Marat, beyond all ideals, hopes, wishes or dreams, bleeding into his bath.

His entertainment is prepared by De Sade, who has seen it all through from the storming of the Bastille to the Empire.

Watkin, who is to color cinematography what Toland is to black-and-white, has the set to commandeer with its lighting effects (beautifully controlled by a slow pan left, just before the historical update) and the variegated direction.

Every means is brought to bear upon the fool, who sits like Satan frozen in ice while the narcolept makes her way through the crowded asylum like a pilgrim past the shoals of Duperret the erotomaniac and De Sade the thaumaturge and the nuns in attendance, another Judith per the script. De Sade laughs at the inmates’ revolution, a madhouse verbatim.


King Lear

Brook has the scenic plan of Bergman’s Virgin Spring for a springboard, and the silent film intertitles used sparingly lend the crowning touch (he furthermore takes from Peckinpah in Ride the High Country his final scene).

It has vividly portrayed the dilemma of two crowns with the egg eaten up, and it has brought to the screen precisely the images of flood and ruin and dead rats that it entails.

This is a recurrent theme, Macheath’s two hussies, Gurdjieff’s reconciled opposites (contrariwise Jack and Ralph, Marat and De Sade).

Brook has taken off from the point achieved by Welles very famously, which is a wise thing to do and quite in Brook’s vein after his appreciation of The Archers in The Beggar’s Opera.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A renowned production doubtless to be explained with reference to Dali’s 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship.

Painting is indeed the key, a mysterious stillness and equipoise governs the players on their circus apparatus, quite like the inner workings of a canvas.

Doubling the leads at last presents, long before Resnais, the Shakespearean mirror structure.


Meetings With Remarkable Men

The direct antithesis of King Lear, in the sense of perishing opposites casting out the rightful lord and then the search for a kingdom based in the event on everlasting union of opposed forces.

Tacitly the cross, the Invention of the True Cross under all the snows and sands of Egypt and Afghanistan and wherenot. The succession of trials is lightly amusing with the high comedy added of “American canaries” painted to secure a rare book that is valueless.

The secret dancing that is an alphabet made vocal comes as recognizable stages, Hawaiian maidens en masse, an inflexible angle of Nijinska’s Les Noces with a soloist in one of Merce Cunningham’s freer responses, and the general geometry of a Balanchine corps dancing along Nijinska’s or Nijinsky’s (Le Sacre du printemps) lines.